New Normal

January 2, 2022 – Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Click here for the readings (https://catholicreadings.org/the-epiphany-of-the-lord/)

A man once asked a wise priest: “Father, how come unlike before God seems to be not talking or speaking to us anymore?” The priest replied: “It is not that God is not anymore talking or speaking to us. But rather it is that nowadays nobody is humble enough to stoop down to listen to Him. Nobody… nowadays… are humble enough… to stoop down … to listen to Him. Bihira nalang ang mga tao ngayong panahon na lumalapit sa Kanya na may pagpakumbaba upang marinig Siya at makinig sa Kanya.

True enough that there are times in our lives that God seems to be silent and absent to us. But during those moments of our frustrations and hopelessness with God, perhaps it is better to consider not His seeming absence or silence, but rather perhaps that we have reach already too far and high in life that we don’t anymore get near and low to listen to Him. Siguro napakataas at napalayo na ng ating narating na hindi na tayo lumalapit at may pakumbabang marinig Siya at makinig sa Kanya.

For the past Sundays, during Advent and these Christmas Seasons, we came to know several people who became involved in the birth story of Jesus and happened to encounter God and begun to know God’s will for them in life. Mary met God through angel Gabriel and became the mother of Jesus. Through a dream, Joseph became responsible poster-father of Jesus. Zacharias became the father of John, after meeting an angel in his old age. Elizabeth became pregnant with John in her old age after her husband’s encounter with the angel. Shepherds saw and learned from an angel that God’s gift to all has been borne in Bethlehem and they became witnesses (godfathers’ or ninong) of baby Jesus. And now in our gospel, the three kings come to know where baby Jesus, God-promised they have been searching, is through a bright-guiding star.

All these people and their experiences are telling us that God had made Himself and His will know to them, and God will always continue to make manifest Himself and His will to us until now. Same way as before, we might experience once again God and His will for us now, if and when we honor our dreams, listen and witness God’s word and actions in us shown to us by his angels or messengers. God still continues to manifest or reveal Himself to us in many ways through the faith and actions of our community and church as we share each other God’s word, good advice, kind and loving service with others, and responsible guidance and parenthood of our elders and leaders. Even in a special way for us Filipino Catholic, we sense God through our kalooban and pangdama. Kilala ko siya dahil dama ko siya. Malapit ang loob ko sa kanyang salita at galaw.

Today, in the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, marks the end of Christmas Season. Today is to remind us that more than about the three Kings, God is still making Himself and His will know to us. He is still reaching out and communicating to us many many ways. He is still talking and speaking to us, like before. All we need to do is to be humble enough to stoop down to listen and be sensitive to Him and His ways of revealing Himself to us.

Moreover, Epiphany also reminds us that once we become humble enough to sense, hear, and honor God and His will to us now, we must change our ways.

In our gospel today, we are reminded us of what happened when the three kings found the child Jesus lying in the manger in Bethlehem. Guided by the star, in great joy, they saw the child Jesus and they did him homage. Their encounter of Jesus and the Holy Family in Bethlehem brought the three kings great joy for they have finally found what they are looking for. With this, they offered their gifts in homage and thanksgiving to God’s greatest gift to all.

But let us not forget that after they have witnessed the Son of God, they returned by another different way. This is not because they were afraid of Herod, but their encounter with Jesus has also changed their lives. Because of their experience with the baby Jesus, their lives were never the same again. They did not follow the usual path, but they now tread a different way, perspective, and attitude to life. Like our experience with a newly born baby, after they have recognized God in the child Jesus, the lives of the three kings were never the same again. The child Jesus brought them great joy as well as great changes in their way of life. 

In the same way, the moment we recognize and accept the Lord, life will never be the same again. This would mean that once we listen and honor God’s will for us, life will never be the same again, for it has to change for the better. As God comes into our lives, New Normal life should be.

As we say goodbye to Christmas season & start a New Year of pandemic realities may we be more sensitive to God’s continuing manifestations to us (His ways of making Himself and His will know to us) and be more open to be change and be responsible for the gift of life God is offering us always. Amen.

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